Judges Urges Quick Settlement of 200 Opioid Lawsuits

Federal judge Dan Polster in Cleveland, citing 200 cases filed by cities and counties against drug manufacturers, says, “Ideally, this should be handled by the legislative and executive branches, our federal government and state government. They haven’t seemed to have done a whole lot. So, it’s here.”

A federal judge overseeing 200 opioid lawsuits has ordered lawyers into private talks on with one goal in mind: find a way to settle the cases, and quickly, the National Law Journal reports. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland said he wanted to avoid protracted discovery fights and trials in the multidistrict litigation. “My objective is to do something meaningful to abate this crisis, and to do it in 2018,” Polster said. “With all these smart people and their clients, I’m confident we can do something to dramatically reduce the number of opioids that are being disseminated, manufactured and distributed.”

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation assigned Polster, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, to oversee the cases. He approved a leadership team of 22 lawyers to spearhead lawsuits in federal court, most filed by cities and counties. The team reads like a “Who’s Who” in mass torts and includes many of the same lawyers who obtained the $246 billion settlement with Big Tobacco. In proposing the slate, plaintiffs lawyers included an organizational chart that showed various committees and working groups, overseen by a plaintiffs steering committee. Polster said parties on both sides—opioid manufacturers and distributors, and the cities and counties that are suing them—are responsible for the opioid health crisis. “I did a little math,” he said on Tuesday. “We’re losing more than 50,000 of our citizens every year, about 150 Americans are going to die today, just today, while we’re meeting. And my humble opinion is everyone shares some of the responsibility, and no one has done enough to abate it.” He added, “Ideally, this should be handled by the legislative and executive branches, our federal government and state government. They haven’t seemed to have done a whole lot. So, it’s here.”

from https://thecrimereport.org